It’s On Us, Guys

I dadded pretty hard today. I worked from home due to a kid being sick and ended up witnessing one kid being aggressive with two of my other kids.

We don’t tolerate that stuff. We don’t try to compel fear in others. It’s a big fat double Nope around here.

So I told the kid (I have five boys and one girl, by the way) that a certain privilege was totally revoked until he dealt with the things right. Later, that kid and his sister got into an emotional argument about something to do with her spending a lot of time and effort on building a structure on a map that he and his older brother had built. They wanted to destroy the structure she had built.

First off, I love that they were arguing over gaming. It’s just a game, but seeing how vitriolic some things have become over males and females in the gaming world, I’m glad to see all of my kids having literally zero issue over the girls/boys playing video games thing.

Anyway. I guided the girl and boy to try again and to see if they could talk rationally to each other and figure out a solution. It took a few tries, but they made progress. Then I heard the boy say something like, “I know Minecraft gamers way better than you do.”

So the next time I needed to step in and adjust their approach and coach them some more, I told the boy, “I heard you say that thing about you knowing Minecraft gamers way better than she does. Whether that’s true or not– and you have no way of knowing that– you don’t talk down to her. One, because she’s a human being and your sister. Two, because she’s a girl and for freak’s sake women and girls have had thousands of years of that and they don’t get that crap in this house and this family. So be extra careful.”

He nodded, apologized for his language, and moved on.

Later, we chatted about his behavior from earlier. Man, this young man is so good, so completely good inside. He needed coaching, sure, to get his heart and mind where he was being honest with himself and seeing his motivations for his behavior, but when he got there– what a sweet guy. He realized he’d been trying to make someone else scared of him, that he was trying to inspire fear. And it hit him so hard how contrary that is to who he is and the good he wants to bring to this world. He got really remorseful and emotional and immediately wanted to make it up to the other person and tell them he would never do that again.

See, it didn’t matter, when it came down to his actions, his motivations, and who he was in that moment, what the other person had done to hurt his pride. Or to inspire that temper in him. What mattered in the utmost was his choices and how he treated the other person– no matter the provocation.

Don’t get me wrong– someone attacks you, you defend yourself and by golly end that conflict instantly with precise, effective action.

Aggression otherwise is unacceptable. We don’t force. We don’t go around inspiring fear. We don’t do violence. Not in this house; not in this family.

And for the love of God in Heaven and His children on Earth, we don’t rape. We don’t do anything sexually aggressive. We don’t make a person afraid. We don’t make a person uncomfortable around us because of our wrong actions. We don’t ogle. We don’t leer. We don’t touch inappropriately. We don’t allow inappropriate touching either.

It’s about respect and mutual belief that people own their bodies and we have no ownership of any aspect of another person. I won’t get into the covenant of marriage here other than to say it’s not ownership– it’s equally shared partnership.

We’ve taught our five boys and our one girl all of that. We’ve taught them that the rubbish that they’re sometimes taught about how modesty is all about what is being worn is wrong. Modesty is in action and thought. What a woman wears doesn’t give me license to do a damn thing. What she wears doesn’t excuse thoughts that I allow to make nests in my brain. What she wears doesn’t give me license to judge her, report her to some governing body, or expect something from her.

We teach our boys and girl that we own ourselves– so we own our actions. Period. We own how we treat others. And treating others with anything other than consideration, love, kindness, warmth, helpfulness, humor, and other virtuous traits is wrong. And when we make mistakes we learn from them immediately.

Because it’s down to us, guys. We have to make a world where women can be and feel safe. Now, I hope women go ahead and arm themselves with guns and learn how to use them so that any man that tries to take advantage of her– well, that it’s the last mistake he ever makes.

But we, guys, in partnership with women, have to be proactively, diligently, and relentlessly building a world full of men who don’t do awful things to women and girls. That means we:

  1. Don’t defend sexual aggression of any type: catcalls, rape, and anything in between.
  2. Stay vigilant to perceive any situation that could make a woman fear wrongdoing and make it instantly safe.
  3. Listen when women are talking about their experience. It’s different from ours and has been for thousands of years.
  4. Stop complaining about sexism toward men. For crying out loud– surely we can take it, can’t we? Not kidding. Sure, let’s fix it where we can, but buck the frak up.
  5. End the idea that there are male games/toys/activities and female games/toys/activities. My daughter’s a gamer through and through so back off because I will freaking cut you.
  6. Not tolerate any sexually inappropriate or aggressive talk or behavior in our male friends. We must have the courage to shut it down in our circles of friends.

Go ahead and complain that women can be rapists too. Then shut up. That’s not the point and it has literally nothing to do with this.

About jaredgarrett

Jared Garrett is the author of Beat, a YA scifi thriller, and its forthcoming sequel, both published by Future House Publishing. A new series, debuting in January 2016 and also published by Future House, kicks off with Lakhoni, a fast-paced rescue adventure in a world reminiscent of Aztec culture, to be released in January 2016. He self-published Beyond the Cabin, a novelization of his childhood in a cult, in December 2014. Both Beat and Beyond the Cabin were Whitney Award nominees, and his story Song of the Wind, received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. In addition to writing, he's spent fifteen years in adult education and is an accomplished public speaker and workshop leader.
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